The riots in Leicester, followed by the attack on a temple in Birmingham, were the most organized violence against Hindus in the United Kingdom in recent years. With arms in hand and chanting religious slogans, hundreds of masked men went on a stampede for days, targeting Hindu individuals, properties, businesses and religious institutions.
Leicester has a vibrant Hindu community, one of the largest and most economically successful in the UK. Tension prevailed in the town since August 28 when India defeated Pakistan in an Asia Cup cricket match. The supporters of Pakistan instigated the Indians by disrespecting the tricolor, which led to a confrontation. Fake news of a mosque being attacked and a Muslim girl abducted by Hindus to mobilize rioters was spread on social media, many of whom traveled all the way from Birmingham to take part in the violence.
While many Western commentators have blamed subcontinental politics for the riots, the fact is that anti-Hindu hate crimes are on the rise in the country. According to UK Home Office data, hate crimes against Hindus have increased from 58 in 2017-18 to 166 in 2020-21, a nearly 200 per cent increase in just four years. In the years 2018-19 and 2019-20, there were 114 attacks against each community. Crimes range from racial slurs and attacks on Hindus to vandalism of properties and religious institutions.
Canada, another country with a successful Indian diaspora, has also seen regular attacks against the community. The recent incidents of temple vandalism prompted the Ministry of External Affairs on 23 September to issue an advisory for Indians living in Canada. According to “Statistics Canada”, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists faced 37 hate crimes in 2016, 57 in 2017, 52 in 2018, 57 in 2019 and 41 in 2020.
Hindus have also reported hate crimes in the United States. This is despite over 100 Indian-origin people holding key positions in government. According to FBI data, Hindus have faced around 60 hate crimes between 2016 and 2020. Adverse events have also been reported from Germany, Australia and other countries.
Indians are loved in every country for their peaceful nature and ability to mingle with local cultures. As a highly educated and hardworking community, Indians have contributed to the governance and economy of many countries. But they have also become targets of hate, and the ISI may have been involved in recent incidents in the UK and Canada, security experts believe. In fact, a large part of the rioting mobs in Leicester and Birmingham have their roots in Pakistan, a country where Hindus have been systematically wiped out since independence. However, Indian embassies abroad have swung into action, offering assistance whenever hate crimes have occurred.